Prudential's new digital ecosystem aims to help SMEs retain talent

PRUDENTIAL Singapore is looking to address talent retention issues for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with its new digital ecosystem called PRUworks. It will help SMEs to attract and retain talent through not only insurance policy benefits, but also "soft" benefits such as online hu-man resource (HR) portals and well-ness programmes.

The sheer amount of SMEs supporting Singapore spurred the company to develop PRUworks, says Mr Ng.

Dennis Ng, the head of enterprise business at Prudential Singapore, pointed out that SME owners often do not have the time or luxury to consider such issues.

He said: "In terms of prioritisation that a SME has, it's never about employee benefits first. The first thing they (think when they) wake up is how do I keep the lights on? How do I bring in the next big deal?"

On why Prudential chose to focus on issues such as retaining talent and supporting HR, things that have been less of a focus in other major initiatives to help SMEs, Mr Ng said: "Prudential is a people's business. No matter how big or small a company is – it's still run by people. If, as an employee, I feel that Prudential doesn't take care of my medical and health needs, it reaches a stage that is beyond my salary."

The digital ecosystem consists of HR programmes, wellness plans and financing services. SMEs gain access to these slew of services after they have signed up for a Prudential group insurance plan. Its HR portal is meant to benefit both employees and employers. It allows employers to manage employee insurance policies in one interface, while employees can check their coverage details any time they want.

Its wellness plans focus on preventive healthcare, working to actively maintain the health and well-being of SME employees instead of merely covering their medical costs when they fall ill.

The British insurer has also partnered with financing companies to give businesses in their ecosystem a financing option should they need it. It is partnering with businesses such as HR management consultancy Milliman in the area of employee benefits, and performance coaching company Hintsa Performance in the areas of well-being and performance management.

Once on board PRUworks, SMEs have free access to Health Promotion Board's SME Health+ initiative, a health management programme.

Typically, SMEs need to pay 30 per cent of the programme's cost, with the government picking up the other 70 per cent. Other partners such as DocDoc help to find relevant medical specialists, and peer-to-peer lender Validus helps with SME financing needs.

The insurance giant has invested S$3 million so far in PRUworks, which began development in February this year and was launched in June.

Since the launch, the digital ecosystem has onboarded more than 200 SMEs onto its platform, none of which were Prudential clients previously. SMEs that already have Prudential policies will join PRUworks next year when their policies are up for renewal.

Mr Ng said the sheer amount of SMEs supporting Singapore – and the fact that it is growing – spurred the company to develop PRUworks.

"Singapore is a hub for a lot of things – an aviation hub, digital hub, fintech hub. In the creation of all these, you attract a lot of support around it. For example, we have the best airport in the world. But in supporting this, you have your baggage handlers and logistic companies, and these are all SMEs."

He said PRUworks also ties back to Prudential's "Ready for 100" study, which looked into quality of life and work for Singaporeans as average lifespans increase.

Based on demographics, three-quarters of the employees Prudential wanted to help with working longer and healthier were in SMEs.

Mr Ng is also aware that, backed by a significant government push, SMEs are trying to go digital. "Some SME towkays aren't tech-savvy, by making it easy for them through PRUworks, they can do this anywhere, anytime, and there's also a 24/7 hotline. When we make the platform easy, it's through a lot of thinking. If it's easy, the adoption rate is high."

Prudential is in discussions to onboard many more partners, and will also integrate Babylon Health, an AI-powered digital health service into the ecosystem in 2019.

By the end of 2019, it will look to have 5,000 new Singapore SMEs on board.


Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction